consumers beware!
MRP is the final price
A retailer can't charge more than the MRP printed on any commodity
Pushpa Girimaji

Can a shopkeeper charge more than the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) marked on a package, saying that the price has been revised? Last week, I went to buy a raincoat. The price mentioned on the package was Rs 980, but the retailer insisted that the price had gone up and I should pay Rs 1,200. He even showed me the price list of the company. Do you think he was right? Should I pay 1,200 for it?

If the price mentioned on the package was Rs 980, I don't see how the retailer can charge more. It is possible that the price of the raincoat has gone up, but the new price would be applicable to raincoats that bear the revised price and not to the old stock with the shopkeeper. So tell the shopkeeper that if he charges more than the MRP, you will complain to the department of legal metrology.

Let me also quote an interesting case, somewhat similar to yours that came up before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The complaint here pertained to overcharging of 'Duck Back baby sheet'. According to the complainant, the price mentioned on the sheet was Rs 92 but he was charged Rs 112. The seller's argument was that the price of the sheet was actually Rs 124, but it had an old label indicating the MRP as Rs 92. So after some discussion, he offered to sell it at Rs 112, to which the complainant agreed. So he had no grounds for complaint.

After examining the case, the consumer court at the district level held the retailer guilty of unfair trade practice for selling at a price above the MRP and directed him to pay exemplary damages of Rs 10,000 to the consumer. The National Commission before which the retailer filed an appeal, agreed with this decision. It pointed out that if the price had been increased from Rs 92 to Rs 125, due to increased cost of production and transportation that would apply only to the new stock. The price of the old stock cannot change. The State Commission was, therefore, right in imposing exemplary damages. The apex consumer court said. (M/S Cargo Tarpaulin Industries Vs Sri Mallikarjun B.Kori, Revision Petititon number 2132 of 2007, decided on July 5, 2007)

Shops selling soft drinks often charge more than the MRP saying that it costs more to keep them cold. What can one do in such circumstances?

You can complain to the department of legal metrology. You can also file a complaint before the consumer court.

Rule 6(1) (e) of the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules mandate that every package meant for retail sale should mention the retail sale price. Rule 2(m) defines "retail sale price" as the maximum price at which the commodity may be sold to the ultimate consumer and the price shall be printed in the form of the MRP that is inclusive of all taxes.

Rule 18(5) also says that no wholesale dealer or retailer shall obliterate, smudge or alter the retail sale price indicated by the manufacturer or the packer or the importer.

Rule 18(2) says, "No retail dealer or other person, including manufacturer, packer, importer and wholesale dealer shall make any sale of any commodity in packed form at a price exceeding the retail sale price thereof."

Thus, selling at a price higher than the MRP is a clear violation of the Packaged Commodities Rules. If you go to the website of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs (, you will get the telephone numbers and addresses of the controller of legal metrology in different states.

Under the Consumer Protection Act too, one can file a complaint against retailers who sell at a price higher than the MRP. In Hotel Nyay Mandir vs Ishwar Lal Jinabhai Desai (RP No. 550 of 2006, decided on December 14, 2010), the District Consumer Forum in Bharuch, Gujarat, asked a hotel, which charged more than the MRP on four bottles of soft drink, to refund the excess amount of Rs 22 collected from the consumer. In addition, it awarded compensation of Rs 5,000 and costs of Rs 1,000 to the consumer and also directed the hotel to deposit Rs 1,50,000 in the Consumer Welfare Fund. This was upheld by the consumer courts at the state and the national levels.

The consumer in this case had pleaded that the consumer court determine the total number of such soft drinks sold by the hotel at the inflated rate during the previous three years and direct that the excess amount collected be deposited into the fund.